All this holds good equally of civilized peoples. The same things that lifted the social savage above the unsocial savage or animal, and gave him the preeminence, lift the civilized man out of the ranks of savagery altogether, and give to civilized States rightful pre-eminence in the world. Crude interpreters of Darwin's theory would have us eschew all philanthropy shut up our asylums and hospitals, abolish poor laws, and let the weak and the helpless take care of themselves, or die. But this would not be rising to a higher stage of civilization, but would be relapsing into barbarism, copying after the Indians, who leave their feeble comrades to perish on the plains; or the Fijians, who when their parents get old or fall ill, bury them alive ; or those animals that expel a wounded animal from the herd, or gore or worry it to death. Nay, there are savages, and even animals, who are superior in sentiment to these heartless Darwinians ; for Darwin tells us of Indian crows that fed two or three of their blind companions, and says that he himself saw a dog who never passed a cat that lay sick in a basket without giving her a few licks with his tongue, the surest sign of kind feeling in a dog. Destroy the social instincts, dry up the founts of sympathy and pity in man, and you strike at the social bond itself; society would be dissolved into anarchy, and the long, slow, painful work of building up the race of man would have to be taken up again from the beginning. Let any community to-day try to organize itself on the extreme individualistic plan, with no charity, since each man looks after himself alone, with justice for those who are able to command it, the rest getting along without it as best they can; and let it enter into competition with other communities in whose midst the poor and sick are wisely cared for, and justice is done to every man, woman, and child, though there be some who are totally unable to get it for themselves, let the struggle come to a clash of arms, and can any one doubt what the result will be ? Selfishness, Professor Everett says, will give its money, it will not give its life, for the common cause. If the social spirit has been weak in peace, it will not, by a miracle, become suddenly strong in war. The unsocial community will go down, as it deserves to go down, before the enthusiasm, the courage, the devotion of men who have been bred in a social community to habits of sympathy and public spirit. Yes, if the community whose principle was " every man for himself " were by a bit of good fortune to be isolated, and never called to enter into a struggle with other communities, I believe in time it would perish from dissensions within itself; it would disintegrate, like any organism of matter whose particles are no longer held together by any common attraction, and from which the animating breath of life has fled.
The thing that builds up a community, a nation, is not less but more sympathy and public spirit, more of all the virtues that spring from these sources. Think for a moment simply of obedience, reverence for law, whether the law is made by a chief or by a people for itself, what strength, what an almost irresistible power, would a whole people trained to such a habit, have ! The Spartans were not equal in intellectual power to other Grecian States, but for a short time they held the supremacy over all Greece; and when I think of the three hundred who defended the pass at Thermopylae against the Persians, and held it at such fearful odds until their last man had fallen, and remember that according to their poet nothing but obedience to the laws of Sparta kept them at their post, I do not wonder that a country which bred such a soldiery rose once to the very head of Greece !
" Stranger, go, and to the Spartans tell That here, obeying their commands, we fell," stands graven on the rock as their memorial.
Socrates anticipated the thought of Darwin and of Bagehot,1 one of the most fruitful thinkers who has followed in Darwin's wake, when he said that State in which the citizens pay most respect to the laws is in the best condition in peace, and is invincible in war;2 and Socrates himself had such a sense of the sanctity of the laws that he refused to flatter and supplicate the judges at his trial (a practice which the laws forbade), and although had he consented to do anything of the kind he might easily have been acquitted, as Xenophon says,3 he preferred to die abiding by the laws, rather than transgressing them to live. What could withstand, other things being equal, a nation of men like Socrates ? I believe that the things that tend to make a people strong, permanently strong; that tend to give it a lasting advantage in the struggle for existence; that make it the fittest, and always the fittest, to survive, are good things, moral things; things that conscience, from its ideal standpoint, would approve. This does not apply to temporary victories, but to those that are held. Respice finem, look to the end and issue of all things. No one can doubt that those great eastern empires that we have glimpses of in connection with Hebrew history and legend, the Egyptian, the mighty Assyrian, the Babylonian, the Persian, perished in turn because they were not fit to live. No one can doubt that Greece fell a prey to Rome when she was no longer worthy to rule herself. No one can doubt that imperial Rome herself fell when it was best she should fall; and that it was owing to natural selection that the barbarians of the North became then the leaders of the world's progress, since out of their splendid energy and purer stock the foremost nations of a new world have come. It is difficult to speak of the present and the future; but the same laws will hold good. Always, I believe, will the nations that have anything like a permanent leadership in the world's affairs be the best nations, I mean, those that have the largest amount of virtue and intelligence within their borders. It may be, indeed, that no nations at present existing will be permanent; this would not be contrary to natural selection, but a proof of its power. It may be that none of them have the conditions of permanency; for natural selection is, I believe, as high in its demands, as severe, as unrelenting, as any ideal of the Deity that has ever been conceived. Nations that are full of selfishness and injustice cannot stand; they will be turned and overturned; the great powers of Nature will not allow them to last. Nations with ruling classes given up to luxury, to effeminate habits, to wantonness, to "the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life," and to contempt of the poor and the weak, will not stand. "Behold, this was the iniquity of Sodom, pride, fulness of bread, and abundance of idleness; neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy. And they were haughty, and committed abomination before me; therefore I took them away as I saw good." 1 So speaks Natural Selection to-day, and always will, for it is a power as dread, as summary, and as almighty as Jahveh. Nations full of violence toward weaker countries, eager with yawning necks to swallow them up and digest them for their own purposes, will not stand; they who are insolent, and know no right above the sword, shall perish by the sword. The power of natural selection is a moral power, and nothing, no success or triumph conceived and begotten in injustice, shall stand. This great Judge of all the earth holds up the balances, and says to the nations, For every act of injustice thou shalt pay! England, France, Germany, America, each thinks it is dear to the heart of Destiny, and cannot fail; and Destiny whispers through all the experience of the past, " I care for none of you; you may go, have your little day, and pass away, as Babylon and Greece and Rome have done before you. I care for justice, for a State of virtuous citizens, with pure homes and clean hearts and honest lips; men and women who put truth above life, and would rather their State should fall than that it should rest on injustice. I call for this. Give it to me, 0 Sons of men, and you shall be dear to me; I shall cherish you, and your work shall stand while the earth lasts ! "
1 Ezekiel, xvi. 49, 50.
1 See his Physics and Politics.
2 Xenophon's Memorabilia, iv. 4, 15. 3 Ibid , iv. 4, 4.